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10 Best Sevens of the Nine Six

Seven inches of hard, black plastic, shaped to satisfy. The seven-inch record remains the driving force of the indie ethic--the only format that anyone with heart and scarce dough can afford to produce, and any gutter punk can "spare change" enough to purchase. The vinyl single is also a classic medium, but its underground proliferation in the '90s makes a comprehensive judging of this year's sevens a herculean feat. As if cleaning the Aegean stables, Revolver had to wade through a ton of crap to uncover these gems, the 10 essential indie singles from the nine six. Here we go, David Letterman-style:

10. Lil' Bunnies
Unabunnie EP
Sacramento's Lil' Bunnies are the crude, drunken forebears of noisy sludge-rock. The band is like an idiot-savant version of the Melvins dressed in bunny suits (which they never wash--good luck, y'know). "We don't need words, we don't need no stupid manifesto, all we need are guitar, organs, bass, drums and bombs--we will destroy you, little man!" And you thought Ted Kaczinski was psychotic. Not recommended for children under 7. (Wrench Records, BCM Box 4049, London, WC1N 3XX)

9. Various artists
Music to Wash Dishes By--Vol. 1
(seven-inch plus fanzine)

The forces behind the acclaimed Dishwasher 'zine (which documents the lives and dreams of dishwashers everywhere) threw together the definitive audio/print tribute to punk rock's most popular career move. The Queers, Ten-Four, the Hi-Fives, and Scared of Chaka--four talented punk outfits hailing from points shotgunned across the U.S.--each contributes a song and a story about scrubbing table finery for slave wages. (Seven-O-Two Records, P.O. Box 204, Reno, NV 89504)

8. J Church
"Racked" is possibly the best song about a hangover's heavier implications ever recorded: "Vague memories of tragedies, Dionysian polemics, emphasized by my splitting headache . . . I'll never drink again." The B-sides, "Mary's Moving Out" and "You Fucking Trick," split for two different directions; the former is a poppy, melodic track and the latter a distorted screaming rampage--Racked scores big-time p-rock extra-credit points for versatility. (Vagrant Records, 2118 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 361, Santa Monica, CA 90403)

7. Furious George
Goes Ape EP
NYPD (that's New York Punk Dives) veteran George Tabb's band Furious George doesn't even try to pretend it's not emulating the Ramones. Tabb even suckered Dee Dee into singing back-up on "Betty Crocker Punk Rocker," the two-line ("Betty Crocker punk rocker/Easy bake oven, eat that muffin") first song on the band's second seven-inch. "Gilligan" and "Monkey in a Man Suit" round out a terrific Ramones-style record. Punk tends to shy away from brazen stupidity these days, and Furious George makes you wonder why. (Lookout! Records, P.O. Box 11374, Berkeley, CA 97412)

6. Sebadoh
"Ocean" b/w "Worst Thing" mixes
Tim O'Heir's slightly slowed remix of "Ocean," the first single from Sebadoh's recent Harmacy LP, puts a poppier perspective on Lou Barlow's self-deprecating shove-off song, while the Osterville version of "Worst Thing" throws some shit-kicking riffs and church-choir chanting behind the reverbed whine of bassist Jason Lowenstein's vocals. These mixes are so good you wonder why they didn't make the album. (Domino Records, P.O. Box 4029, London, SW1S 2XR)

5. Unwound/Steel Pole Bath Tub split
No band names, song titles or record speeds, just blank white labels on each side of a record containing one track each from two of America's best noise-rock outfits. Both of these bands owe a large debt to early Sonic Youth's guitar chaos. Unwound's track is the more refined and structured of the two, recalling its New Plastic Ideas LP as it shifts unexpectedly from soft and slow to loud and driving. SPBT's cut, on the other hand, catches the D train to weirdville, with disorganized guitar tweaking, feedback and American Indian chants. Together, these songs are a fitting modern tribute to the art of noise (the experimental style, not the "Peter Gunn Theme" cover band). (Honey Bear Records, P.O. Box 460346, San Francisco, CA 94146-0346)

4. Heavenly
Space Manatee
Sugary pop songs, a la the Go-Go's, are making a comeback in indie rock thanks to bands like cub, Tullycraft, and Heavenly. "Space Manatee" is the best example of Heavenly's frosted-flake genius, a jangly, sweet 'n' sour love song dripping with Amelia Fletcher's fetching vocals. As for the B-sides, "You Tore Me Down" is the type of dirgeful heartbreak song Heavenly does best--preciously cute but bitter. The upbeat "Art School" provides balance of mood, so you don't come away from Manatee feeling too down and out. (K Records, P.O. Box 7154, Olympia, WA 98507)

3. F.Y.P/Propagandhi split
Torrance, California's F.Y.P serves up three hyperpunk tracks of the potty-mouthed variety the kinder-core trio is infamous for. "Dinky Bosetti," a lovesick tribute to Winona Ryder's character in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, is a bit dated, but then, adolescent crushes die hard. Propagandhi, Canada's loudest and fastest soapbox jumpers, contributes one track, "letter of resignation." Though it's the slowest song the band's ever recorded, it's one of the most powerful--the story of a girl who drops out of life that ends with a touching poem of grrl-desperation. (Recess Records, P.O. Box 1112, Torrance, CA 90505)

2. The Drags/The Peechees
Radio Disappears
You can't throw enough accolades at the Peechees' slicked-back, revved-up rockability. Their cover of the Drags' "Well Worth Talkin' About" is a prime example of snot-core punk rock. On the flip side, the Drags cover the Peechees' "Slick's Livin' It Up (on the bottom of the sea)." Not only is it the best song about a submarine since that English band's cartoon crap, but the Drags pull it off with a honky-tonk sloppiness that nicely embellishes the manic energy of the song. These two bands represent the new, evolutionary school of punk--pay attention. (GI Records, P.O. Box 6348, San Jose, CA 95150)

1. The Evolution Control Committee
the whipped cream mixes
Some smart asses in Columbus, Ohio, had the stroke of genius to throw Chuck D's vocals over tracks from jazz kingpin Herb Alpert's legendary Whipped Cream LP, and wound up with the coolest seven-inch release of the year. "By the Time I Get to Arizona" is especially poignant for politically conscious Phoenicians ("With a dumb cracker running things under his thumb" strike a chord?). Hip-hop has merged with many music styles in the past decade, but never quite like this. Incredibly, the vocals are almost perfectly matched to the beats. These tasty mixes are an acquired taste, but well worth the effort. You have to hear them to believe. (Eerie Materials, P.O. Box 420816, San Francisco, CA 94142)

--Brendan Kelley

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Brendan Joel Kelley